Cougars Fall to Trojans, 42-14
October 17, 1998
PULLMAN, Wash. - What began as a dog fight evolved into a blowout with USC trampling WSU 42-14 before a rain soaked crowd of 31,178 at Martin Stadium. The win moved the Trojans to 5-2 overall, 3-1 in Pac-10 play, while dropping the Cougars to 3-4 overall and 0-4 in the Pac-10.
Things looked good for the Cougs early. Making his first collegiate start, quarterback Paul Mencke completed his first three passes to lead the Cougars to the USC 35 yard line on the game's opening possession. Then DeJuan Gilmore provided a rushing spark with a touchdown dash that gave WSU the initial lead for only the third time all season.
Not to be denied, the Trojans put together a 10-play, 68-yard drive in the closing stages of the first quarter. Mike Van Raaphorst found R. Jay Soward on a 13-yard touchdown scoring route and the game was knotted at 7-7.
After completing five of his six first-quarter passes, it looked as if Mencke's offensive train might derail in the second quarter. On first down at the WSU 20, Mencke dropped back and fired his first interception of the night to Chris Claiborne, who coasted into the endzone to give USC its first lead.
But Mencke and the Cougars were not done fighting. On its very next possession, the WSU offense responded with a 45-yard scoring drive, culminating in a 29-yard touchdown reception by Nian Taylor. With the game tied 14-14, the Cougars reached into their bag of tricks and caught the Trojans off-guard with an on-sides kick.
WSU quickly penetrated into USC territory, but it would be all for not. Falling under pressure on third-and-10 at the USC 42, Mencke made a desperate attempt to avoid a sack with an underarm toss that fell right into the arms of Claiborne. Not only did WSU miss a scoring opportunity, it squandered a chance to pin the Trojan offense deep.
While the Cougars stopped USC that time, the defense could not hold the Trojan offense under the command of backup quarterback Carson Palmer, who relieved an ill Van Raaphorst. Before the end of the second quarter, Petros Papadakis rumbled 53 yards into the endzone to start what would be a 24-0 Trojan scoring run to end the game.
The Trojans extended their 21-14 halftime lead on the opening possession of the third quarter, driving from the USC 33 to the WSU 2 before Palmer tossed a scoring pass to Lonnie Ford. On top 28-14, USC proved it too had a bag of tricks. With the ball at the WSU 43 yard line, the Trojans went to the flea-flicker, which netted 17 yards on the pass from Palmer to Windrell Hayes. On the following play USC used some razzle-dazzle again, this time an end-around to Soward for a 26-yard touchdown and a 35-14 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
The final 15 minutes of play were pure misery for the Cougars. First, Chad Morton scored the sixth and final Trojan touchdown less than 30 seconds in the the fourth quarter. Then, Mencke tossed his third interception of the night, which would be followed by his fourth, fifth and sixth by game's end. His six picked tied a WSU individual record for interceptions in a game. WSU's 0-4 Pac-10 start is the worst conference start by a Cougar team since 1975, when WSU went 0-7 in league play.
WASHINGTON STATE 7 7 0 0 14 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 7 14 14 7 42
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